THE largest mass participation AFL event in Australia is coming to Coffs Harbour.
The AFL Masters National Carnival is expected to bring around 850 players from from every state in Australia, involving every age group from Over-35s to Over-60s as well as a spectator audience of more than 1,400 people.
To be played next year from September 30 to October 7, the eight-day event attracts around 40 teams.
AFL North Coast Football Operations co-ordinator Paul Taylor said
"We're really excited to have the Masters Carnival coming to Coffs," Taylor said.
"It will offer a great chance to showcase the region to the players and their families."
The announcement of Coffs Harbour being next year's host was made shortly after this year's carnival, played in Geelong, was brought to a close.
The NSW Government's tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, along with Coffs Harbour City Council played a major role in bringing the event to Coffs Harbour but Taylor said there's some unsung heroes, especially Dan perry who has been paramount in establishing AFL Masters in the local area.
"This is a feather credit to Dan Perry and his band of volunteers who have done a power of work to sell the qualities of the Coffs Coast to the decision makers," he said.
The influx the AFL Masters community will bring to the region next year is estimated to provide an economic boost of anywhere between $2.7 million to $4 million.
"Age doesn't diminish the pride that players feel when they represent their state, so the Carnival promises to offer exciting and quality games for all spectators," said Nikki Greenwood, Council's Group Leader City Prosperity.
"It's also a great advert and inspiration that will help grow awareness and participation in AFL on the Coffs Coast."
Originally known as Superules, the concept of over-age AFL matches was formulated in country Victoria in 1980. Within a few years it had spread to other states and National Carnivals have been held annually since 1984.
With a thriving AFL presence in Asia, it is hoped that the event may also attract international interest.
Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser said being granted the rights to host the Masters Carnival next year is another tick of approval for Coffs Harbour and its sporting facilities and will offer vistors more than just football.
"From our beautiful coastline, nature reserves and adventure sports to some of regional NSW's finest restaurants and cafes, Coffs Harbour has something for everyone," Mr Fraser said.
"Coffs Harbour is already host to some fantastic major events, including Rally Australia, the FFA National Youth Championships and two upcoming One Day Internationals as part of the Women's Ashes Series."